648 Main Street
Shrewsbury, MA 01545
Phone: 508-845-6226
Fax: 508-842-0061
Irma Stevens

Irma G. Stevens (Frey)

Saturday, April 12th, 1924 - Sunday, July 12th, 2020
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Obituary

Irma Gloria Frey Stevens, 96, died July 12 at her home in Auburn.

The daughter of the Rev. Stephen J. E. Frey and Caroline Fugerer, she was born April 12, 1924, in the parsonage of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Brooklyn, N.Y., where her father was the pastor.

Her later childhood was spent in Clinton, Mass. She graduated from Clinton High School, and was one of a handful of graduates to go to her class’s 70th reunion. Her education continued at Clark University, where she studied German and Romance languages and graduated with the class of 1947, one of the first at the university to include women. In 2017 she was honored at a program “Celebrating 75 Years of Co-ed Clark” as one of the school’s oldest living alumnae.

After college she married a classmate, Allison P. Stevens, and eventually moved to Auburn, where he became principal of Auburn High School and she was a part-time grade school teacher. They had three children and were married for 25 years before divorcing.

An avid reader throughout her life, she returned to the classroom in her 60s and obtained a master’s degree in theology from Assumption College.

Irma also returned to Clark University, this time as an instructor in the American Language and Culture Institute, teaching English language and writing skills to international students. She taught for nearly 30 years, finally retiring at 92, the oldest active instructor associated with the university. Many of her students became friends, and she enjoyed receiving their letters and phone calls from around the world.

She followed her own advice to “write every day,” published several volumes of her poems and frequently participated in poetry readings in the Worcester area. She was also active in study groups on Jungian psychology and the writings of C. S. Lewis.

From childhood, she was a music lover and musician, playing the xylophone and marimba. She performed for churches and civic groups into her 90s. Few grandchildren or other young visitors to her home could escape being invited into the “music room” and given a lesson in elementary marimba technique.

Whenever possible she enjoyed outings to the Maine seashore and to local nature preserves, but her greatest pleasure was derived from backyard gardening and birdwatching at the home she occupied for six decades.

Irma was predeceased by her two sisters, Concordia Masshardt and Ruth Frey.

She is survived by her three children and their spouses, Clark Stevens and Karen Wada of Sierra Madre, Calif.; Dr. Ted Stevens and Deborah Stevens of Virginia Beach, Va.; and Lauren Cullen and Richard Cullen of Litchfield, Me.

Also surviving are her devoted niece and nephew, Carolyn Masshardt and Carl Masshardt, and Carl’s wife, Pam.

Irma had eight grandchildren, now dispersed throughout the country: Emerson Stevens, who faithfully attended her in her final years and was with her at the time of death, and Gwen Stevens; Amanda McMillan and Luke Stevens; and Andrew, Peter, Timothy and Samuel Cullen. She also had one great-grandchild, Lucia Stevens.

The family is grateful for the kindness of several selfless friends who enriched her later years with travel and companionship.

Memorial donations in the name of Irma Stevens may be made to Clark University in Worcester, Mass. (clarku.edu).

A private memorial gathering will be arranged when health and travel conditions permit.
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Private Condolence
TG

The Goldens

Posted at 05:56pm
We were privileged to know Irma over 40 years. Our friendship began when she took care of our son Jonathan in his toddler years. She was magical with him, taking him for walks, showing him all the plants and flowers, playing the marimba for him, reading stories and poems and generally nurturing his natural intellectual curiosity along the way. Subsequently we periodical met at musi cal events and kept up contact via cards and notes. We will always remember this thoughtful, intelligent and gifted woman with great fondness Condolences to her family. Gayle and Bob Golden
RM

Russell Maus

Posted at 01:08pm
Irma was my wife Tammy’s best friend, soulmate, and Spiritual partner for over 25 years. They spent many a week or weekend together, and over the years I got to know her quite well myself. I never once saw her get angry or raise her voice. She was Peace personified.
She was very proud of her family, and Her Ministerial heritage.
As a Professor of ESL at Clark University, she made a real difference in many hundreds of lives. How many of us can claim that? Yet she was oh so humble.
We miss her terribly already, but know we were Blessed to have her as long as we did.
TB

Tammy Bourakis

Posted at 09:15am
I know Irma through my dear friend Tammy Fleming Maus. Irma is an amazing woman and a gift to the planet. I watched the beautiful relationship unfold between Irma and Tammy for the last 20 years as they brought each other daily comfort and helped each other grow, be loved and discover the journey of life together. I know Irma is with God now. She gave so much to her community. Thank you Irma. With Love, Tammy Bourakis
DB

David Barbale

Posted at 05:48pm
Our Family was blessed to know Mrs. Stevens and enjoy her company. She was one of my first home improvement customers back in 1986. She taught several of our children how to play the xylophone and the piano. It was always comforting to be at her house and enjoy her conversation. Thanks Mrs Stevens for the wonderful memories. We’ll pray for the repose of your soul.
 

Krystyna Saja Posted at 04:27pm

Mrs Stevens was my English teacher and a friend. She helped me through my Nursing School and was an honor guest at my graduation. You will always have a special place in my heart Mrs Stevens.
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